For the fourth day in succession, the workers of Ford India Pvt Ltd continued their sit-in protest to demand a better severance package as the company has decided to shut down its Maraimalainagar plant near here, said a union official.
“Workers are continuing their protest inside and outside the factory. About 750 workers who had come in for the shift on Monday are inside the plant and about 1,200 workers are outside the factory gates,” the union official told IANS, preferring anonymity.
According to him, a labour department official came to the plant on Thursday and three-way talks were on at the plant.
Though the Ford India management was expected to offer a better compensation package on Wednesday, it did not happen, the official added.
Since Monday workers have been on a sit-in and sit-out protest at Ford India’s plant.
On Tuesday, an official from the state labour department had come to the factory and held discussions.
“This will be the final job for most of the workers. We may go as contract labour as age is against us. The office staff can get jobs elsewhere or even in Ford’s other business ventures here,” a senior worker told IANS on Tuesday.
According to him, it seems other major players do not want Ford India to pay a liberal severance package as it may become the benchmark rate for others to follow.
“For Ford India’s parent Ford Motor Company the compensation to workers will be a small amount owing to the dollar-rupee exchange value,” the worker added.
He also said for the workers, who were inside the factory since Monday, food was being supplied by the canteen inside and for those outside the workers’ union was taking care.
A worker union official had told IANS that production of cars at the Maraimalainagar plant was scheduled only for ten days.
Currently, the plant rolls out EcoSport for the export market.
In September 2021, Ford India announced its decision to wind down vehicle assembly in Gujarat’s Sanand by the fourth quarter of 2021, and vehicle and engine manufacturing in Chennai by the second quarter of 2022.
Ford India has four plants in the country — vehicle and engine plants in Chennai and Sanand.
The workers at the Maraimalainagar plant are also dejected at being left out, as Ford India’s Gujarat plant and its workers will be taken over by Tata Motors’ subsidiary Tata Passenger Electric Mobility.
The Chennai plant has about 2,700 associates (permanent workers) and about 600 staff.
Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and AIADMK Coordinator O. Panneerselvam had said the stoppage of production by Ford India in the state was a major concern.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)